The Top 5 Challenges to Starting a Successful SaaS Company


Q: What are the challenges that a SaaS business owner must overcome to be successful?

My list:

  1. Finding a truly great co-founder. Yes, some can do it on their own. Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom did. But he also did it before as SVP of Engineering at WebEx. Almost all of us don’t need just a co-founder, but a truly great one. Are you sure you have this? A bit more here: What are the qualities of a good co-founder?
  2. Funding the first 24 months — not just 6 or so. Yes, as CEO your job will always be to keep the company funded. But the first 24 months are particularly tricky. Folks can’t work on smiles and promises for 2 years. Maybe a few months, but not 2 years. Yet, in SaaS it generally takes 2 years to iterate, iterate, iterate and get to a true MSP — a Minimum Sellable Product. Can you fund it? How? Yes, it’s hard. More here: If You’re Going to Do a SaaS Start-Up … You Have to Give it 24 Months | SaaStr
  3. Finding and executing in a real, truly monetizable white space. It’s not enough to build a product that is useful, or even needed. It must be one customers are willing to pay for in general, and in lieu of other proven solutions. Why do you have that? Are you sure? A bit more here: Planning to Do a SaaS Startup? Don’t Forget the 20 Interview Rule. | SaaStr
  4. Having at least one 10x feature vs. the competition. Your product is new, bug-ridden, and feature poor. Why will someone pick you? Being cheaper or even free is rarely enough. You need one killer feature than is 10x better than the competition — that at least some small segment of the customer base really needs and will pay for. More here: The 10x Feature is Real. At Least, for a While. What’s Yours? | SaaStr
  5. Getting great folks to follow you, and your vision. A great co-founder is critical, per point #1. But you’ll need then to go even further. And get a small group to follow you. A few engineers. Some partners in the ecosystem. Some vendors that shouldn’t take the risk on you. Can you do that? What you’ll need to be able to do: What Your First 100 Hires Will Look Like | SaaStr

Without these 5 … it’s tough to get there in SaaS.

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